Category: Family Law


The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the Montgomery County Chancery Court and The Court of Appeals yesterday when it released an opinion clarifying the Parental Relocation Statute.

The opinion stated the parent spending the majority of the time with the minor child should be given permission to move, so long as , the parent wishing to relocate has a legitimate reason and absent the high standard burden of proof of the opposing parent.

The parent who opposes the move must prove one of three grounds for denying permission: (1) that the proposed move would pose a threat of serious harm to the child; (2) that the relocating parent’s motive is vindictive; or (3) that the move does not have a reasonable purpose.

To read the summary of the full Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion:

Contempt of Court

What is Contempt?

Any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a court; action that interferes with a judge’s ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court; punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. There are both civil and criminal contempts; the distinction is often unclear.

A judge who feels someone is improperly challenging or ignoring the court’s authority has the power to declare the defiant person (called the contemnor) in contempt of court. There are two types of contempt, criminal and civil. Criminal contempt occurs when the contemnor actually interferes with the ability of the court to function properly – for example, by yelling at the judge. This is also called direct contempt because it occurs directly in front of the judge. A criminal contemnor may be fined, jailed or both as punishment for his act.

Civil contempt occurs when the contemnor willfully disobeys a court order. This is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the judge’s immediate realm and evidence must be presented to the judge to prove the contempt. A civil contemnor, too, may be fined, jailed or both. The fine or jailing is meant to coerce the contemnor into obeying the court, not to punish him, and the contemnor will be released from jail just as soon as he complies with the court order. In family law, civil contempt is one way a court enforces alimony, child support, custody and visitation orders which have been violated.

If someone has violated a Court Order such as failing to pay child support or refusing parenting time under a Parenting Plan, then a Petition for Contempt is filed with the Court and served upon the party violating the Order.

Things You Cannot Do In A Divorce…

Article originally posted on The Huffington Post

Written by:  Christina Pesoli Family Law Attorney (Coldwell Bowes, L.L.P.); Author (Break Free From the Divortex: Power Through Your Divorce and Launch Your New Life)

Getting a divorce requires a lot of adulting. (And yes, “adulting” is now a verb.) The timing on that couldn’t be worse, because when you’re getting a divorce, adulting is extremely challenging.

To make it easier, I’ve developed some divorce attorney-approved guidelines for adulting during your divorce:

Don’t try to play the “young and dumb” card. Let me hit you with some hard truth here: You can’t play the “young and dumb” card if you’re neither young nor dumb. If you’re at the point in life where you’re getting a divorce, you should be old and wise enough to know what constitutes dumb behavior, and you should have developed the impulse control to resist it.

For example, racking up big credit card bills and fees for no-nos like shopping sprees and late payments might be a dumb mistake that a college kid with her first credit card could be forgiven for, but the same latitude does not extend to you. You’re going to need room on those credit cards for divorce-related expenses like security deposits, moving expenses and legal fees.

Plus, your credit card statements are going to be scrutinized by your ex and his lawyer. It’s hard to claim that you’re a mature mom with good judgment when you’ve maxed out your credit cards with spending benders at Boston Proper, Forever 21, and Dick’s Last Resort. Bottom line: No retail therapy for you. Go get some real therapy and leave your credit cards alone.

Don’t engage in public displays of…well…anything. Drunkenness. Nudity. Profanity. Anger. Crying. On second thought, I take back crying. An occasional bout of public crying might be unavoidable (and therefore understandable) when you’re going through a divorce. And I’m not just saying that because I myself was guilty of crying in public on at least one occasion that I can remember during my divorce. (Sorry for that super awkward lunch at Hyde Park Bar and Grill 8 ½ years ago, Connie.)

All of those other behaviors are examples of conduct you might expect of kids — depending on their age, of course. Public displays of nudity, anger and crying are staples of any self-respecting toddler’s daily repertoire. And drunkenness and profanity are on full display in any college town every Thursday through Sunday night.

But none of those is acceptable from a person who is adulting properly — whether you’re going through a divorce or not. So, if you get a charged with public intoxication and/or public urination at the lake this summer, don’t try to explain it away to your lawyer by saying that your kids were with their dad and you were having a little “me time.” Getting a massage or playing golf is an acceptable “me time” activity. Being drunk and disorderly is not.

Make new mistakes. When your lawyer takes your case, she’s agreeing to take you where she finds you — previously committed immature mistakes and all. Whether you’re the one who had the affair, or you’re the one who keyed his car when you found it parked at the No-tell Motel, whatever transgressions you confessed during your initial consultation come with the territory.

But you don’t get unlimited forgiveness. If you later key your ex’s new girlfriend’s car after spotting it in his driveway over the weekend, don’t expect the same level of acceptance from your lawyer. Unless you’re a tweenager, you should know that insincere apologies are more of an insult than anything else. An apology doesn’t count if everyone knows you’re just going to do the same thing again, anyway.

Your lawyer doesn’t appreciate it when you disregard her advice, make your case more difficult and jeopardize the potential for a good outcome. She can’t be the only grownup working to get you out of this mess — she needs you on the job, too.

If you make a mistake, there are three simple steps to follow. 1. Own up to it — to your lawyer, I mean; not in some rambling text to your ex at 2:00 a.m. Definitely do not do that. 2. Learn from it. 3. Move forward. There’s no better evidence that you’re not learning from your mistakes than repeating them. And not learning from your mistakes means you clearly are not adulting well. Or at all, really.

Remember, going through a divorce isn’t some sort of hall pass for stupid mistakes; it’s a mandate to avoid making them. So put on your big girl or boy pants, throw it into adult gear, and keep it there.

Tennessee Court of Appeals on Attorney’s Fees in Domestic Criminal Contempt Matters

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently ruled on awarding attorney’s fees in Domestic Criminal Contempt Matters.  The Opinion stated that the award of attorney’s fees in pursuit of a Criminal Contempt Petition are not provided for in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-9-103(b) and expressly limits the punishment a court may award, therefore, it does not warrant an award of those fees.

Read the full Tennessee Court of Appeals Opinion at:


“What if I told you that a court had allowed service of process in a divorce case through Facebook? Or that two people recently found themselves in contempt of court for Facebooking a protected party? What if I told you a bunch of cool stories about opposing parties ruining their cases by broadcasting the finer details of their lifestyle to their online friends?

This is a general roundup of the state of Facebook and family law: from cases on the frontier, to stalking opposing clients, to a wave of new ethics rules regarding proficiency with technology.”

Original post written by Chandra Moss (CFLS), Kristen Holstrom, Mary Melech, and William Peacock for California Lawyer blog.  Read the full article here

“Winning” your Child Custody Case

Divorce is never easy and one of the most heart wrenching, fought over issues are the decisions involving your children.  No one really “wins” a child custody case. After all, your family is separating and the way you handle the decisions you make regarding your children will determine the relationship you have with your ex and your children for the rest of your lives.

The following article written by Jeffrey McAdams, Esq. will give you insight into handling your divorce and custody case:


Divorce and Money-Myths and Realities

Separate Bank Accounts, Property, and Inheritances are assets that are often assumed to be off limits to the other spouse in a divorce; However, it is not as simple as that and can depend greatly on the state you live in and other factors, such as where the money in the account comes from.

Speaking with an attorney regarding your assets, the laws of your state, and the specifics of your relationship will give you a better understanding of how the Court could divide all of the assets of a marriage.

Read the full article at


No Income for Child Support Purposes Affirmed


Facts: Father and Mother divorced after 10 years of marriage. By the time of divorce, Mother had not worked outside the home for many years. Her primary role in the family was devoted to raising the parties’ two minor children. At the time of trial, both children were in high school.

Proof at trial showed the jobs available to Mother were entry-level, minimum wage jobs. Mother testified such entry-level employment was not appealing to her and expressed a desire to better herself for her children. She said she wanted to complete the surgical technician program at a nearby technical college. The program would last 12 months. The proof showed the starting pay for a new surgery technician varied from $13-$18 per hour, depending on the specific area of employment.

After awarding rehabilitative alimony so Mother could pursue the education necessary to become a surgical technician, the trial court set child support based, in part, on Mother having no income whatsoever.

Father appealed.

Excerpt from post written by K.O. Herston, Esq.  Please visit the following link to read the entire post:

No Income for Child Support Purposes Affirmed in Centerville, TN Divorce: Tidwell v. Tidwell